Ever since the hexagonal began, it's been widely assumed Mexico would earn one of the three automatic World Cup berths. After all, El Tri are the top-ranked side in CONCACAF and feature the deepest talent pool.
With that being said, the team's recent draw in a friendly with Peru shows it's not a lock.
Mexico and Peru battled for 90 minutes with neither side able to find the net. It marked the third time in five matches this year that a Mexico match ended in a scoreless draw. The first two were home qualifiers at Estadio Azteca against Jamaica and the United States.
While it's important to note the Mexican squad wasn't at full strength––Javier Hernandez, Giovani dos Santos and Andres Guardado weren't on the roster––it was still a solid domestic-based group. It was also a very winnable match.
Instead of seizing the opportunity and beginning to build some confidence ahead of a key qualifying stretch in June, El Tri struggled to establish an attack. Jose Manuel de la Torre continues to search for the right group, and he's quickly running out of time.
As it stands, Mexico is in fifth place in the qualifying group. That wouldn't even be good enough to reach the playoff round, let alone get a direct pass to Brazil. So there's clearly a lot of work left to get done in a short period.
No longer can El Tri rest on the fact it's a long group stage. By the end of the June run, it will be past the midway point. If Mexico remains outside of the top four at that stage, it will be time to press the panic button.
The feeling of Mexico's qualification being a foregone conclusion is gone. It's become clear the talented side will need to fight for every point. If the level of play doesn't improve over the final seven matches of the group, there's a real chance El Tri could fall short.
Yes, odds are they will rebound and get back in the top three before it's all said and done. The players can't afford to have that attitude, though. There needs to be a sense of urgency because they have already let several points slip away.
They have a friendly with Nigeria in late May before two straight road qualifiers in Jamaica and Panama. By the end of that stretch, fans will get a much better look at where Mexico stands ahead of a home matchup with Costa Rica.
Mexico still has a very good chance to end up earning a spot in the World Cup, there's no doubt about that. But El Tri's recent run of lackluster form proves it's not a guarantee.